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Found 41 results

  1. Today the Obama administration announced its plan to cut 30 percent of carbon emissions from power plants by 2030. The new emission standards are historic and are called the strongest action taken by the U.S. so far to curb the effects of climate change. It’s also the first time ever that an American president wants to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that the Clean Power Plan would ensure a healthier environment, spur innovation and strengthen the economy and create jobs. “Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” McCarthy said. “By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids.” Coal lobbyist say the plan will create an energy crisis and force hundreds of coal plants to close. But experts say that investments in renewable energy, an industry that already employs 6.5 million people globally, will “explode” as a result of Obama’s new proposal. “If you’re working in the solar or wind industry, you should feel very happy right now. Those are the industries growing faster than the rest of economy,” Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said to Al Jazeera America. “It’s clear that those are going to be the industries to work in, invest in and watch. They’re about to explode in terms of growth.” If the proposal goes through, it could lead to a transformation of the whole energy economy in America, as well as playing a vital role in international climate negotiations – successfully putting pressure on China and India to also limit their use of coal. The new proposal, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mainly targets the country’s 600 coal plants and would result in a 30 percent reduction by 2030 from carbon levels recorded in 2005. The 2005 baseline is politically important as it makes the target much easier to hit. Carbon emissions were much lower at this time than only a few years back. In 2013, the emissions were 10 percent lower compared to only eight years prior. Setting a baseline much further back would have made a bigger impact on climate change – but it would also make the proposal harder to sell. Despite this, the reactions from environmental groups are generally positive but they stress that Obama, and the plan, can do much more. “The new rule shows that the Obama administration is serious about taking action on climate change, but the Administration could and should strengthen it considerably,” Greenpeace director Gabe Wisniewski said in a statement. But the plan might not come into effect until 2017 or 2018 – long after Obama has left office. First, the plan is open for public comment until June next year. After that, all 50 states will participate in a regulatory process where they will determine how to reduce their emissions. The 30 percent target is for all of U.S., this means that targets for individual states varies depending on their current usage of coal. The state of Ohio will have a target of 28 percent, while Kentucky and Wyoming only have to cut emissions by 18 and 19 percent respectively. The proposal could potentially also be in jeopardy if the Republicans were to form an administration before it becomes law.
  2. Eu debate

    The candidates for the European Commission presidency debating on 15 May, 2014. From left, Alexis Tsipras from Greece, Denmark's Ska Keller, Germany's Martin Schulz,Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, and Belgium's Guy Verhofstadt.
  3. Today the first polls for the European Parliament election opened. People in the Netherlands and Britain will be among the first Europeans to cast their ballots in the marathon election spanning 28 countries in four days. And this election might be the most important one in recent history. Extreme far-right parties are making gains throughout Europe, spreading dangerous xenophobia and hate. And a low voter turnout could be in their favor. It’s therefore important to participate and vote for democracy, for equality and human rights. Let’s show these hateful and ignorant people that we Europeans have learned from our dark past. That we won’t forget. And that we won’t accept their sick and misguided worldview. It’s an important election, for many reasons. But the most pressing issue of our time is obviously climate change. It is the crisis that could destroy everything that we and generations before us have worked so hard to achieve. We have known about climate change for decades now. But we have done nothing. And we can’t blame it on ignorance – that we didn’t know any better. In a sense, the climate crisis could really be the biggest political failure in human history. The European Union is the world’s largest economy. The largest share of capital and the largest state budgets are all located within Europe. Together, Europe is an economic powerhouse capable of anything. But climate action cost. It’s estimated that we need to spend a few thousand billions annually to save the climate. That might sound like too much – especially in the wake of an economic crisis. But it’s not much compared to the EU’s total GDP, which is over €13 trillion. Combating climate change clearly wouldn’t hurt us economically. It wouldn’t even cost us one percent of EU’s total GDP. Climate change is supranational, it’s a global problem that doesn’t care about nations or borders. Therefore the solutions need to be supranational. And despite all it flaws – believe me, there are many – the European Union is this solution. Together, the European Union could create a common energy market that favors renewable energy over dirty fossil fuels. The EU could easily promote cleaner and greener modes of transportation. We could create a unified transportation system which makes it possible for people to travel across Europe, quickly and comfortable. There are of course many other examples. But none of this is possible to accomplish for nations on their own – it would simply take too long. And it doesn't help that the current energy market is based on national monopolies and cartels. These are corporations that profits from tariffs, restrictions and lousy energy transfers between countries. Changing this outdated business model is a daunting task for the EU alone, but it will be even harder to accomplish if countries try to negotiate possible solutions with neighboring countries on their own. It would be like the current railroad system, where Swedish trains cannot travel in Europe because the railway tracks and systems differs between countries. A unified Europe is something we should strive for – it’s in our best interests. But which party should get your vote? The conservatives doesn’t seem to grasp the severity of climate change. The liberals put their faith in the market, hoping the market will solve the climate crisis on its own terms - the very same solution they advocate for every problem. The Social Democrats seems too keen to safeguard national economic and industry interests. And the socialists, well they unfortunately don’t see the possibilities of a unified Europe. For a democrat, the remaining choice are the European Greens. They are the only political group that has constantly pushed the hardest for human rights, solidarity, and real and meaningful action against climate change in the EU. But PollWatch published its final election prediction a few days ago. And according to their numbers, the conservative party group, the EPP, would again receive the majority of the seats in the parliament. The Social Democrats would be the second largest political group. EPP would get 217 seats, 16 more than the Social Democrats. The Greens would actually lose seats, going from their current 58 seats to 44 seats. This would mean that the main EPP candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker could soon become EU's most powerful politician. This would be a sad outcome. Juncker is basically the epitome of conservatism. He is old, white and male. In debates, Juncker has used the term "floodgates" to talk about migrants. He has claimed he "don't know anything" about the TTIP mandate. And his political group - which includes abortion opponents, homophobes and nationalists - supports "fracking" and austerity measures, among many things. Juncker and the EPP would surely mean bad news for our environment, and an EU that will continue to lack the political will to modernize and combat climate change head on. It’s clear that the green voice must be strong if the European Parliament should make any meaningful progress on climate. I therefore ask you to take part in the elections, and that you vote for a greener and fairer Europe.
  4. It’s wrong to think that we can campaign to stop climate change in the same way we might campaign to end a war. All the evidence says we are well past that stage now. That is, even if by some impossible, magical course of events all carbon pollution on Earth was stopped tomorrow, we’d still be in really, really deep trouble. So many greenhouse gases have been pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere that we have rushed far past the safe upper limit — the famous 350 parts per million of CO2, the number that climate action group 350.org took for its name. Today’s level of 400ppm has been enough to trigger the“death spiral” in Arctic sea ice. More than three-quarters of the ice cap’s volume has melted away in the past 30 years. Along with wrecking the Arctic region’s fragile ecosystem, scientists predict the loss of the ice cap will trigger other events that throw global warming into overdrive. The two biggest of these are the melting of the huge Greenland ice sheet and the release of immense stores of methane gas frozen inside ice-like crystals on the seafloor. There is alarming evidence that both disastrous events may already be underway. Dangerous warming already here Last year, Greenland’s ice cap was found to be melting at a rate that smashed previous records. Studies cited in the UN’s IPCC report on climate science said Greenland’s ice melt was six times bigger in the decade to 2011 compared to the decade before. The scientist-authored blog Arctic News also reported that recorded methane emissions from the Arctic are “going through the roof”. Two weeks ago, researchers announced that 17 million tonnes of methane were venting into the atmosphere from the ocean floor off the coast of East Siberia each year — double the amount previously estimated. Methane gas causes up to 100 times more warming than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Even without the methane pulse, the Earth will keep warming. Researchers from Princeton University released a study on November 24 that said “the carbon dioxide already in Earth’s atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years” even if emissions suddenly stopped. On top of this, world-leading marine scientists warned in October that a climate change-induced ocean mass extinction event may be underway. This is largely due to the warming of the oceans, combined with the acidification caused by carbon dioxide dissolving into the water. The ocean has not been this acidic at any time in the past 300 million years. All these impacts are underway now, when the Earth has warmed by just 0.8C since industrialisation. Unless emissions fall rapidly, the warming pathway is for a 4C rise — maybe as soon as 2060. That is, business-as-usual puts us on track for global warming five times worse that it is already. Fossil fuel binge Despite all these findings, the world’s big polluting firms (and the banks that finance them) are engaging in a fossil fuel binge. Last year alone, companies spent $674 billion to find and develop new oil, gas and coal deposits. The International Energy Agency predicts global investment in extracting and processing new fossil fuel reserves will add up to a staggering $22.87 trillion between 2012 and 2035. And because conventional fossil fuel sources are running out, an increasing part of this investment will be in even more polluting unconventional sources: gas and oil fracking, tar sands oil, shale oil, extra heavy crude oil, deepwater offshore oil and energy deposits from the newly accessible Arctic seabed. US energy analyst Michael Klare put it bluntly in a recent Tomdispatch.com article: “Most of us believe (or want to believe) that the second carbon era, the Age of Oil, will soon be superseded by the Age of Renewables … There is only one fly in the ointment: it is not, in fact, the path we are presently headed down. “The energy industry is not investing in any significant way in renewables. Instead, it is pouring its historic profits into new fossil-fuel projects … The result is indisputable: humanity is not entering a period that will be dominated by renewables. Instead, it is pioneering the third great carbon era, the Age of Unconventional Oil and Gas.” In a recent paper, US climate scientist James Hansen summed up the fearful outcome if the big corporate polluters get their way: “It is not an exaggeration to suggest, based on best available scientific evidence, that burning all fossil fuels could result in the planet being not only ice-free but human-free.” Three types of denial We are already living in a world of dangerous, irreversible climate change. We need to cut emissions sharply to stop things getting even worse, but we also need to prepare to adapt to the changes that are coming. Radical social change — economic and political systems based on equal access, human solidarity and sustainable production — will be the most important adaptation measure of all. If we are going to survive in a warmer world, then we must also do so without illusions. The threat of climate change would be a lot less daunting if the mainstream discourse about it were not so dominated by reckless denial, shamefaced excuses and sinister silences. From the standpoint of humanity having a safe future on this planet, this race to wreck and poison the Earth for profit is insane, even suicidal. Yet for the powerful companies that stand to profit, and from the standpoint of the capitalist system as a whole, it’s an entirely predictable response. The methodical destruction of the life-giving properties of our planet is the visible product of “the invisible hand.” The World People’s Conference on Climate Change, held in Bolivia in 2010, drew together more than 20,000 climate campaigners — mostly from the global South. The conference adopted a “People’s Agreement” that concluded capitalism’s “model of limitless and destructive development,” its “regime of production and consumption [that] seeks profit without limits,” is ultimately to blame for the climate crisis. The People’s Agreement also noted that “the corporations and governments of the so-called developed countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.” As we strive to build mass movements to respond to the climate emergency, we will have to confront the corporate polluter-backed denial of the climate science. But we will also have to confront those who accept the science but deny the economic and social roots of the crisis. US Marxist John Bellamy Foster says there are at least three kinds of ecological denial. The first kind is the outright, absolute denial of any problem, the “automatic response of corporations generally” when their profits are under threat. It’s the denial made infamous by tobacco companies. It’s the denial of those who blindly insist climate change is not happening, or that humans have no role in it. The second kind of denial is “a retreat from the first.” It admits the problem, but refuses to admit that the present social system is a fundamental issue. This kind of denial gives rise to environmental solutions that confuse the symptoms with the cause. Typically, those who isolate population size, consumption habits or technological change as the most important climate issues are stuck at this second stage of ecological denial. Foster says the third kind of denial is “a last ditch-defense” and “the most dangerous [denial] of all.” It’s the denial that admits our environmental problems are a failure of capitalism as it exists, but insists we must try to make capitalism green and sustainable. “The argument here varies,” says Foster, “but usually begins with the old trope that capitalism is the most efficient economic system possible … and that the answer to ecological problems is to make it more efficient still by internalising costs on the environment previously externalized by the system.” It’s the denial that says we can deal with climate change while keeping the social relations of domination, inequality and exploitation that got us into it. It’s the denial that says the best way to protect nature is to turn more of it into marketable commodities. It’s the denial that says capitalism is the potential saviour, when it is the present destroyer. Ecological revolution Rejecting these three types of denial leads to embracing a strategy of far-reaching ecological revolution. In the words of the People’s Agreement: “It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.” This is not the same as just waiting for the revolution to come. The campaigns to keep fossil fuels in the ground and build new, sustainable infrastructure are crucial. The point is that if the climate action movement allows its goals to be shaped by what is permissible in a capitalist economy then it has already failed. If it refuses to compromise on the things that need to be done then it will ultimately have to confront, and remake, the whole system. This is an immensely difficult and arduous course. We cannot deny the peril we face. But neither should we deny the revolutionary changes needed for humankind to survive and thrive in the future. To respond to the climate emergency, our politics must be as radical as our reality.
  5. Around 1.3 billion people lack electricity in their homes or businesses. And nearly 40% of the world’s population have to rely on wood, coal or charcoal to cook their food with – which causes both environmental destruction and toxic gases that kills nearly two million people every year. Electricity could help children study after dark. It would allow medicines and food to be refrigerated. Electricity would also help replace outdated cookstoves and open fires, that are dangerous to people’s health, and many other things that we in the industrialized world take for granted. Access to electricity could make all the difference for the people who are without it today – but it needs to be modern and sustainable energy. Both the UN and World Bank sees the positive benefits of sustainable electricity. For the latter, electricity sparks social and economic development which creates improved lives and economic progress. The UN believes access to clean and modern energy is key to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The two international organizations therefore recently appealed to governments, international agencies and the private sector for money to help finance their universal energy plan. “Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a press conference. It has been estimated that around $600-$800 billion a year till 2030 is needed to reach the campaigns target of universal access to electricity. The money will go towards efforts to double energy efficiency, with a special focus in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries, and doubling the world’s share of renewable energy by 2030. “Financing is the key to achieving these objectives,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “To reach our goals for access to energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, we need to mobilize an additional $600-$800 billion a year from now to 2030. We will now start moving in countries in which demand for action is most urgent. In some of them, only one in ten people has access to electricity. It is time for that to change.” But not all energy sources are welcomed. “We don't do nuclear energy,” said Kim while he and UN Secretary-General unveiled their universal energy plans at a press conference this past November. Instead, the World Bank and UN wants to increase investments in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. "Nuclear power from country to country is an extremely political issue," Kim told reporters. "The World Bank Group does not engage in providing support for nuclear power. We think that this is an extremely difficult conversation that every country is continuing to have. And because we are really not in that business our focus is on finding ways of working in hydro electric power in geo-thermal, in solar, in wind," he said. "We are really focusing on increasing investment in those modalities and we don't do nuclear energy." This is not surprising. Nuclear is a highly controversial energy source, and the UN and the World Bank are wise to refrain from supporting it. While some environmentalists, such as Mark Lynas and George Monbiot, has called for increased investments in nuclear energy, many others, such as Al Gore, has said that nuclear is not the answer to our energy and climate crisis. It’s also hard to ignore the high costs and dangers involved in nuclear energy. Brazil, Norway, the Bank of America and OPEC has committed to support renewable energy and energy efficiency activities. Energy assessments have been launched in 42 countries with the first reports scheduled to be finished in April.
  6. The 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists who were arrested in September after a peaceful protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters has been granted amnesty. The Russian parliament has voted in favor of an amendment that extends an amnesty decree to people who have been charged with hooliganism. This amendment grants amnesty not just for the “Arctic 30”, but also for thousands of other Russians and high-profile people. These include Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhin, both members of the Russian feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot. The amnesty grants freedom for the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists who were arrested on international waters following a peaceful protest at a Gazprom-operated Arctic oil platform three months ago. This also means that the legal proceedings against the “Arctic 30” are over and that the 26 non-Russian Greenpeace activists will be able to leave the country and travel back home to their families. “I might soon be going home to my family, but I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place,” Peter Willcox, the Captain of the Arctic Sunrise, said. “We sailed north to bear witness to a profound environmental threat but our ship was stormed by masked men wielding knives and guns. Now it’s nearly over and we may soon be truly free, but there’s no amnesty for the Arctic.” But the amnesty could also be seen as an acknowledgement of guilt, especially for the Russian activists. “I’m relieved, but I’m not celebrating. I spent two months in jail for a crime I didn’t commit and faced criminal charges that were nothing less than absurd,” Ana Paula Maciel from Brazil said. “Right now my thoughts are with our Russian colleagues. If they accept this amnesty they will have criminal records in the country where they live, and all for something they didn’t do. All because we stood up for Arctic protection.” The photo shows an Arctic 30 vigil outside the Russian embassy in Mexico. Greenpeace and the “Arctic 30” received massive support following the arrests. Famous names such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, Jude Law, and many others called for the immediate release of the jailed activists. More than 2.6 million people also wrote to Russian embassies and Greenpeace themselves held around 860 protests in 46 countries worldwide. The campaign to free the “Arctic 30” also received political support from Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Dilma Rousseff, François Hollande, Ban Ki-moon and Hillary Clinton. Twelve Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi and Lech Walesa, likewise supported the campaign. Jim Leape, director general of WWF International, said that he was “relieved” to hear that the Greenpeace activists had received amnesty but stressed that “they should never have been arrested” in the first place. “The Gazprom Prirazlomnoye project poses a huge threat to this fragile region,” he said. “While the case against the protesters may no longer exist, the issue of risky Arctic development remains, and needs to be addressed honestly by government, business and civil society.” It is still unclear what will happen to the Arctic Sunrise, the iconic Greenpeace ship, which is still impounded in Murmansk. An international court has ordered for its release following a case brought by the Dutch government. Greenpeace says that they have not been deterred from future protests against Gazprom and has vowed to continue with its campaign against oil drilling in the Arctic.
  7. Just weeks after being elected as Australia’s new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has started his war against science and climate. Abbott, who have said that climate change "is absolute crap", has already dismantled the country’s climate commission and is now set to repeal the carbon tax that was introduced in 2011 by the former left-leaning government. The first victim of Abbott’s anti-science and anti-climate campaign was the country’s Climate Commission. The commission was established in 2011 with the goal to independently inform and communicate the dangers of climate change to the Australian public. The most recent report from the commission, titled The Critical Decade, warned that the world needs to essentially “decarbonise in the next 30 to 35 years” in order to avoid serious consequences from global. This means, as the report noted, that Australia would have to keep most of its fossil fuels in the ground. Abbott and his new conservative government estimates that the closure of the Climate Commission will save taxpayers $1.6 million a year, reduce bureaucracy. The government has also promised that the Department of Environment will instead continue with informing the public about climate change. But considering that Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, it’s not that hard to figure out the real reason to why Abbott wanted to shut down the independent commission. Christine Milne, opposition leader for the Greens in Australia, has said the decision shows Abbott’s "contempt for climate science and for the health and wellbeing of future generations." "Shooting the messenger does not alter the fact that Australia has to do a lot better than 5% in order to contribute fairly to the global challenge of constraining global warming to two degrees," Milne said to the Guardian. "Prime Minister Abbott has distinguished himself as one of the only leaders of a western democracy to deny the severity of global warming and to actively undermine infrastructure which is bringing down emissions." But the Climate Commission is not the only target for Abbott. Other bodies that are in the risk of being stripped of its funding are the Climate Change Authority, which provides independent advice on emissions reduction targets, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a renewable loan institute. It’s now painfully clear that, despite promises of the contrary, Abbott has no intentions of doing anything meaningful against the climate crisis. Mark Dreyfus, former parliamentary secretary for climate change and energy efficiency in Australia, writes on the Guardian that: “Abbott now seems determined to ensure that good policies implemented over the past six years by Labor are torn down as fast as possible, regardless of their economic merit, regardless of the negative impact this might have on the jobs and businesses that have been created…” Just a couple of days ago, Abbott did what he promised in his election campaign: he introduced a repeal bill to the Australian parliament that will scrap the country’s controversial carbon tax. "This is our bill to reduce your bills, to reduce the bills of the people of Australia," Abbott proclaimed. But critics say that Abbott is doing just the opposite. Adam Bandt, from the Greens in Australia, writes that "there’s nothing new about conservatives slowing down the pace of reform, offering paternal protection and preserving the status quo." But "global warming is already damaging the health and the way of life of ordinary Australians and unless we act those threats will become catastrophic. [...] If our prime minister truly wants to protect the Australian people, he must help fend off dangerous global warming, the country’s biggest ever threat." Abbott has campaigned with the promise of getting Australia back on track. But in reality he is moving Australia backwards. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey (cc).
  8. This past weekend Australians gave (with some help from Murdoch) Tony Abbott, the leader of the Australian Liberal Party, a landslide victory in the country's 2013 federal election. But environmentalists fear that the conservative leader, who has said that climate change "is absolute crap", will destroy decades of hard-fought environmental and climate policies. In 2009, Abbott said that "the argument [behind climate change] is absolute crap." Since then his climate denialism has softened up a bit. Now in 2013 he says that "I think that climate change is real, humanity makes a contribution." So instead of just bluntly denying climate change, Abbott now only denies the need to act on it. So it's no wonder that some commentators and environmentalists have likened Tony Abbott and his policies to the same anti-science and climate denying stances that Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum advocates. Abbott has already promised that, if elected, he will repeal the carbon tax that was introduced in 2011 by Julia Gillard and her former ruling Labor Party. The historic carbon-pricing legislation was supported by the Greens and has charged industries and energy companies for their emissions. Instead Abbott plans to replace the carbon-pricing legislation with his Direct Action program. The program is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five percent from the levels in 2000 by 2020. Abbott himself says that his climate policies will "take strong and effective action to tackle climate change, action that doesn't damage our economy." But critics say that even this meager reduction target will be impossible to reach. Among others, George Monbiot has said that the Direct Action program "is incapable of delivering the cuts it promises, absurdly underfunded and surrounded by a swarm of unanswered questions." "Were it to become big enough to meet its promises, it would be far more expensive than a comparable carbon trading scheme, which Abbott has falsely claimed would incur "almost unimaginable" costs. But it won't be big enough, because he refuses to set aside the money it requires. Direct Action is a program designed to create a semblance of policy, in the certain knowledge that it will fail to achieve its objectives," Monbiot writes. Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter and despite commitments from Australia to limit global warming to below two degrees, the country's coal export are planned to expand by more than double current levels in the coming years. Both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from the Labor Party has rightfully received criticism for their inaction on climate change. But with Tony Abbott as the new Prime Minister, the climate outlook in Australia looks even bleaker than before.
  9. In the article, Cameron writes that he wants to see fracking in all parts of Britain - and not just in the less populated areas in the north. "It's been suggested in recent weeks that we want fracking to be confined to certain parts of Britain. This is wrong," he said. "I want all parts of our nation to share in the benefits: north or south, Conservative or Labour. We are all in this together." Fracking is a controversial method of extracting gas. The word fracking comes from its technique, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas. The British Geological Survey has estimated that there could be around 1300 trillion cubic feet of gas in northern England alone. Cameron claims that only 10% of that is the equivalent of 51 years' worth of gas supply. Besides cheaper gas and energy bills for the British people, Cameron also promises that fracking will bring money to local neighborhoods and create new jobs in a struggling economy. He estimates that around 74 000 news jobs, in and around the gas sector, could be created. "If neighborhoods can see the benefits - and are reassured about its effects on the environment - then I don't see why fracking shouldn't receive real public support," Cameron said. "The Prime Minister's claim that UK shale gas will reduce energy prices doesn't stack," Greenpeace Energy Campaigner Leila Deen said in a response Cameron's pro-fracking comments. "Experts from Ofgem to Deutsche Bank to drilling company Cuadrilla itself agree UK shale will not bring down bills, because unlike the US, the UK is part of a huge European gas market," she said. "The government must come clean about where its getting its advice from, and the role shale gas lobbyists are playing in it." Fracking will bring potential dangers to the local environment, the climate and people's health. Fracking is a fossil fuel which production creates greenhouse gas emissions. It's no more different than coal and more conventional gas - in fact, its carbon footprint could even be worse than coal. Considering all the chemicals involved in the fracking process and the numerous reports of gas leaking into people's water supply, fracking could also become a real threat to people's health. In the US, at least eight states have reported surface, ground, and drinking water contamination due to fracking. In Pennsylvania alone, over 1,400 environmental violations have been attributed to deep gas wells utilizing fracking practices. Fracking will also bring pollution from truck traffic, chemical contamination around storage tanks, and habitat fragmentation and damage from drilling in environmentally sensitive. But Cameron claims that fracking is safe for both the public and the environment. "There is no reason why the process should cause contamination of water supplies or other environmental damage," Cameron said. At least if it's "properly regulated." And if "any shale gas well were to pose a risk of pollution, then we have all the powers we need to close it down," Cameron promises. "Our countryside is one of the most precious things we have in Britain and I am proud to represent a rural constituency. I would never sanction something that might ruin our landscapes and scenery." But, Cameron added, "the huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor change to the landscape." If Cameron gets what he wants, which is thousands of shale gas pads scattered across Britain, he will just lock Britain into another form of fossil fuel addiction for another generation. And we cannot afford that. We need truly green and renewable energy sources.
  10. President Obama made an important speech on climate change on June 25. He announced several policies to be implemented using his executive authority. Al Gore said it was the "best presidential address on climate" ever. The speech and the steps Obama announced are very positive for a number of reasons. First and possibly most importantly, he argued for the necessity of tackling climate change, declaring that "we don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society." His advocacy of action to address climate change is one piece of convincing even more millions of people that we don't have time to waste. This helps turn the agenda away from the deniers and procrastinators, from the oil and coal company executives and owners who want to continue making excess profits while they still can. Obama called on the people of our country to demand action by political leaders at all levels - to invest in renewable energy, to divest from fossil fuel companies, to force politicians to promote sensible climate change laws as a condition of winning the support of voters. He called on citizens to "make their voice heard." The steps he announced, from regulating emissions of greenhouse gases from new and existing power plants, to setting a goal of 10 gigawatts of renewables produced on public lands by the end of this year, are worthwhile in their own right. While these actions do not and can not accomplish as much as major congressional legislation, they do move the U.S. as a country from the obstacle to the solution side of the ledger. Obama, while punting the final decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline down the road, set the crucial precedent that permits should be denied unless there is proof that the pipeline won't increase carbon dioxide emissions. This is an application of the precautionary principle, a variation of the medical admonition to "first do no harm." We should applaud the fact that Obama, after mentioning climate change in both his inaugural address and in this year's State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress, is following up with real action. If he moves forward on his determination to make progress on these environmental issues in his second term, it will be yet another historical accomplishment of his administration. Some have already derided his directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as merely telling the agency to perform its job, including following court decisions requiring the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. However, given the already furious Republican opposition to any action by the EPA, Obama's public reaffirmation is another positive step. While not exactly a "new" policy, it does engage in the battle already ongoing over EPA regulations. These steps build on the environmental accomplishments of Obama's first term, increasing fuel economy standards significantly and investing in renewable energy, using the stimulus to support a more robust renewable energy industry and to invest in research. While appreciating the positive nature of his speech and the policies he announced, it is clear that these actions still fall far short of what scientific knowledge calls for. Climate change does not just threaten even more extreme weather events like last year's Hurricane Sandy; it imperils many natural systems on which developed human existence depend. Much more is required, and congressional Republicans and coal-state Democrats are playing an obstructionist role, preventing the more far-reaching action that humanity needs. While Obama's proposals may be the maximum that is currently politically possible in the U.S., what is really required is a massive effort on many fronts - changing transportation, agriculture, military policy and production; regulating pollution-producing industries; research in many areas of energy, climate, weather, production; retrofitting existing buildings with much more substantial insulation; instituting new building code requirements and federal procurement policies - to mention a few areas where major progress is needed. The fight over the Keystone XL pipeline continues, and the next battle in the Senate will be over the confirmation of Gina McCarthy as new EPA administrator. Already, Republican senators are placing a hold on her nomination and threatening to filibuster any vote on her confirmation. These are just two of many battles to come. This article was first published in People's World by Marc Brodine.
  11. Speaking at a climate conference in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that inaction on global warming is "not an option" and called on nations to redouble efforts to secure an internationally binding climate change treaty. After being invited by the governments of Poland and Germany, environment and climate ministers from 35 countries "“ who together are responsible for around 80% of world carbon emissions - gathered earlier this week at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue conference in Berlin for a round of dialogue and informal negotiations ahead of the UN climate summit (COP19) in Warzaw, Poland, later this year. While stressing that all countries need to act, Merkel demanded immediate and bold action on climate change so that a binding climate treaty that limits emissions that cause global warming can be reached by 2015. "I'm under no illusion that there is a long road ahead," Merkel said at the conference. But "doing nothing only means that it will get a whole lot more expensive." These are indeed strong words for global action against climate change. But while Germany's carbon emissions rose by two percent last year, Merkel has so far seemed uninterested in fixing Europe's severely broken cap-and-trade program and failed to push for tougher climate policies for the European Union.
  12. Hundreds of socialists, environmentalists and climate activists attended the first Ecosocialist Conference in New York City last month. One of the featured speakers at the conference was Jill Stein, the nominee of the Green Party during the 2012 national election in the US, who held a talk about how capitalism is killing the planet. Besides linking the economic and climate crisis, Stein also discussed the politics of fear, Barack Obama's environmental failure and the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline. You can watch her 30 minute long talk in this video. If you want to learn more about the conference, John Riddell covered it in more detail here on Green Blog.
  13. "A resounding success!" John Riddell, Louis Proyect, and Ben Silverman report on a major step forward for anti-capitalist organizing in the environmental movement. I was unable to attend the Ecosocialist Conference in New York City on April 20, and it is clear from all reports that I missed an important and inspiring event. The meeting was organized by the Ecosocialist Contingent, the alliance that participated as a united anti-capitalist voice in the demonstration against the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington on February 17. Initiated by members of Solidarity and the International Socialist Organization, the Ecosocialist Contingent quickly expanded to include the broadest range of left organizations and individuals yet seen in the U.S. environmental movement. Below are reports by three participants in the conference. John Riddell wrote his report specifically for Climate & Capitalism. His report can be found below [editor's note]. John is best-known as the leading historian of the Communist International, but he is also active in the fight against Enbridge's tar sands pipeline in Toronto, and a founder of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity. Louis Proyect, a long time socialist activist in the New York City area, moderates the popular online discussion forum Marxmail. His report is published on his blog, The Unrepentant Marxist. Ben Silverman is a New Jersey based socialist and environmental activist, and a member of the International Socialist Organization. His report is published on his blog, The Red Plebeian. For readers in the Toronto area, John Riddell and Abbie Bakan will report on the conference at a public meeting on Saturday May 4 at 7pm, at the Beit Zatoun coffee house, 612 Markham St. Details here. New York Conference charts path toward 'system change not climate change' By John Riddell The Ecosocialist Conference, a broad and enthusiastic all-day meeting in New York April 20, took a big step toward creating an anti-capitalist wing of the environmental movement. The conference was arranged in just six weeks by organizers of the Ecosocialist Contingent in the mass demonstration against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Washington February 17. It was supported by 29 groups who subscribed to the Ecosocialist Contingent statement for "system change, not climate change." The 240 attendees "• more than double the number organizers originally expected "• included members of several socialist currents and many unaffiliated socialists, but the real strength of the conference lay in participation by a great number of young climate-change and ecological activists. Most participants were from the New York region, but a few came from as far away as Maine, Oregon, Texas, and Vancouver, B.C. Break with Democratic Party The range of opinion was wide. Many participants, including spokespersons for the Green Party, did not term themselves anti-capitalists, but agreed on the need for "˜system change' and a break from the corporate-dominated Democratic Party. Among them was the first featured speaker, Jill Stein, the Greens' presidential candidate in 2012. "This is an incredible outpouring of support of those not going forward with Obama but forward with the 99% for system change and fundamental justice," she said. "Capitalism is trying to kill the planet, but the people are rising up." Her remarks reflected the view of many participants that organizers of the February 17 mass demonstration had weakened the protest's impact by presenting it as an expression of support for Obama, echoing his "forward" and "clean energy" slogans, for example. As several speakers noted, the Democratic administration now seems very likely to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The February 17 action thus showed both the power of environmental protest and the futility of relying on the Democrats. As Jill Stein said, "the demonstration told Obama, "˜we've got your back,' and then he stabbed us in the back." The road to system change The conference brought together a wide range of viewpoints in a fruitful exchange. For example, the panel on "Carbon taxes and market approaches" heard Teamster and Green Party activist Howie Hawkins' reasoned defense of carbon taxes as an immediate measure to alleviate climate change that enjoys "solid support." The second presenter in this session, Dan Piper of Socialist Action, counterposed the need for working people to "seize command of the productive apparatus." There is no way to end environmental destruction through reforms, he argued. For example, cities based on cars or on public transit are mutually exclusive alternatives. But how can we link immediate concerns like Keystone XL to the need for system change? Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism, addressed this point in the closing session by calling for the building of a movement through which "we change our relationship to each other and the planet. We need to shift the pendulum of power - and, ultimately, get rid of it." The climate change movement showed its potential by delaying Keystone XL, Williams said, "and when it is approved, we should demonstrate again." Electoral action Widely different approaches were also evident in discussions of participation in elections. "We are in uncharted waters," said Joel Kovel of EcoSocialist Horizons. "There are no market solutions, and no electoral solutions either"¦. Ecosocialism is a spiritual question; our organizing aims to direct spiritual forces to the Earth and nature," he said. Gloria Mattera of the Green Party agreed that "the market system has failed," but stressed the need for "electoral expression in order to engage the broader population," calling for "a broad electoral alliance to challenge the power of the corporations." Environmental justice Speaking in the opening plenary, Richard Smith stressed the need for wholesale economic transformation to save the planet. "Drastic retrenchment is required. Three-quarters of goods produced are not needed at all." The argument for this view is strong, but as stated it doesn't seem to recognize the need to overcome global inequality, in particular the increasingly desperate needs of billions of people who lack even the most basic requirements of life. Other presentations focused more explicitly on the impact of environmental crimes on victims of oppression. David Galarza, a Puerto Rican ecological activist, portrayed encouraging gains by environmental struggles in his country; Firewolf Bizahaloni-Wong of the Native Resistance Project discussed Idle No More and the fight for indigenous rights. A well-attended panel addressed the broader issue of "Race, Gender, and Environmental Justice." The first victims of climate change are the peoples of poor countries, and "we have a lot to learn from environmental movements in the Global South," said Heather Kangas, a Baltimore-based members of the International Socialist Organization. Moreover, "the environment is not just the natural world but also where we work, live and play - it is urban and suburban as well as rural," she said, advocating that the ecosocialist movement link up with Environmental Justice groups found among peoples of colour. Amity Page, a journalist with the Amsterdam News, described the systematic racism of the U.S. emergency management agency (FEMA) and other authorities after the Hurricane Sandy disaster. People of colour were regarded simply as "looters," she said. FEMA and police did not enter subsidized public housing to help those in need and kept other assistance workers from going in, saying it was too dangerous. "A disaster heightens the inequalities that are already there," she said. Abbie Bakan, head of gender studies at Queen's University, Ontario, took up a case study: the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians. They have undergone an "indigenous experience, enduring environmental racism," in which slogans like "make the desert bloom" promote the notion that "the good earth comes only from the colonial project." Some comments from the audience in that session: "There has been an environmental justice movement all along among indigenous peoples, people of colour, and in the Global South, but you have to have anti-imperialist eyes to see it." "Every climate change activist must also be an antiwar activist." "We will learn much more about racism and how it is manifested through our activity in the environmental movement." Next steps The event's program was well-run and varied, with 43 speakers and facilitators. Aside from the panels discussed here, there were sessions on agriculture/food, fossil fuel divestment, Hurricane Sandy, labour, and Green Left history. No discussion was scheduled on ecosocialist activities going forward, but it was generally felt that the conference created a strong foundation for future activities. Alongside Chris Williams' call for another Keystone XL protest, there was talk of holding another ecosocialist conference down the road. The Ecosocialist Contingent will hold a teleconference May 6 to discuss next steps. For information, write ecosocialistconference [at] gmail.com.
  14. A few days ago I wrote about Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, the three front-runners in the Republican primary, and just where they stand politically when it comes to our climate and environment. As one can imagine their anti-science positions and climate skepticism didn't result in a very positive environmental record. Now one of the more unknown Republican candidates in the primary have spoken out against his fellow Republican party members for their anti-science rhetoric. It's the former Utah Governor and former Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman who said in an interview on ABC's This Week this past Sunday that the climate change skepticism coming from Romney, Bachmann and Perry is "not a winning formula" saying he "wouldn't necessarily trust any" of his opponents. Since my post last week the three front-runners have attended more campaign rallies and said more crazy things. For example: At a political rally in New Hampshire last week, Rick Perry continued to deny global warming and said that "there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects". Michele Bachmann on the other hand said at a rally in South Carolina that she will make sure that gasoline cost less than $2 a gallon again, if she becomes president. This is of course impossible and Stephen Lacey has a great post about this crazy dream from Bachmann over at Climate Progress. During the interview on ABC's This Week, Hunstman attacked Romney, Bachmann and Perry and said that the Republican party will be on the "losing side" if they continue to attack science. Here is an excerpt from Huntsman's interview where he attacks mainly Perry's stance on global warming, evolution and science: "I think there's a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party - the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science - Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position. The Republican Party has to remember that we're drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. And we've got a lot of traditions to draw upon. But I can't remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a - a party that - that was antithetical to science. I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula." He also attacked Bachmann's $2 gasoline promise: "I just don't know what - what world that comment would come from, you know? We live in the real world. It's grounded in reality. And gas prices just aren't going to rebound like that. But just as we are in a static world, that is completely unrealistic. And, again, it's talking about things that, you know, may pander to a particular group or sound good at the time, but it just simply is not founded in reality." Hopefully Huntsman can bring some sanity when it comes to science and climate change to the Republican primary and the coming presidential election. You can watch the full interview with Huntsman here.
  15. Next year on November 6 it's time for general elections in the USA but the political campaign work in both parties has already begun. At the moment it's the Republicans and their primary that is in the prime spotlight. The 2012 Republican primary seems to shape up with three main potential contenders against Barack Obama and the Democrats. These three front-runners are Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. But what does Romney, Bachmann and Perry say about environmental and climate issues? Below is a quick summary on the three front-runners and just where they stand politically when it comes to the climate and our environment. As a quick note before I start I must say that it's sad to see that the American climate debate has taken a completely wrong direction since the last elections. The former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, who proudly said he was a "coal booster" and his (joke to a) Vice President Sarah Palin who in the elections couldn't even name a single man-made cause to climate change, supported a cap-and-trade system in the previous election. But none of the three Republican front-runners would today even consider a cap-and-trade system in the US. And somehow Rick Perry's and Michele Bachmann's rhetoric sounds remarkably similar to the Norwegian terrorist's crazy ramblings about climate change being some sort of "eco-Marxist plot". It is also sad that Mitt Romney is facing such strong criticism among Republican voters for his (weak) pro-climate and pro-science stance. It shouldn't be "political suicide" to believe in basic climate science these days. Rick Perry Rick Perry is an religious, right-wing conservative who currently is the Governor of Texas. Many political commentators have likened Perry and his cowboy-like rhetoric and style to the former President George W. Bush. Which might say a lot where he stands political on environmental issues considering Bush's awful climate record. From his statements regarding climate change one can clearly see that Perry is a global warming denier. Perry wrote in his book Fed Up! that he believes that Al Gore and climate scientists belongs to a "secular carbon cult", and that global warming is a "contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." Here is a quote from his book: "For example, they have seen the headlines in the past year about doctored data related to global warming. They know we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists, and that draconian policies with dire economic effects based on so-called science may not stand the test of time. Quite frankly, when science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned. . . . And it's all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight. Al Gore is a prophet all right, a false prophet of a secular carbon cult, and now even moderate Democrats aren't buying it." When Perry campaigned for Governor in Texas last year he was labeled as one of the twelve dirties state office candidates in the country by the Texas League of Conservation Voters. "Rick Perry has consistently put corporate polluters and other special interests ahead of protecting our natural resources and working to make Texas a leader in the new clean energy economy," said David Weinberg, Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters. Jonathan Hiskes wrote a longer summary about Perry's environmental record last year saying that while Perry fights climate action he embraces wind power. He also writes that Perry "relishes his role as a foe of national climate action" and that he have said that the climate bill that passed the House in 2009 was as an "economic disaster". Perry has also tried to fast-track permits for 11 new coal plants in Texas. According to the liberal blog Thinkprogress, Perry has received massive amounts of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry: "Since his 1998 candidacy to be George W. Bush's lieutenant governor, Perry has raked in $117,091,642 in campaign contributions, with the oil and gas industry the top contributor. Big oil has fueled Rick Perry's career, the top industry contributor at $11,189,103, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Top oil company contributions include $189,188 from Exxon Mobil, $147,895 from Valero Energy, and $116,000 from Koch Industries." So what kind of solutions does Perry have for Texas, which currently is experiencing one of the state's worst droughts in history most likely due to man-made climate change? Well, Perry believes that the only viable solution is prayers. Jeff Goodell over at the Rolling Stone magazine writes: "The other day, Texas Governor Rick Perry took dramatic action to save his state from the ravages of a changing climate. He issued a proclaimation for Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. For three days, Perry asked Texas to kneel at the pew, or at the foot of their beds, and silently ask God to bring water to their parched state." When it comes to EPA Perry says the Environmental Protection Agency and their regulations "are killing jobs all across America" and that he wants the president to "put a moratorium on all regulations across this country." And like ThinkProgress notes, this would mean complete anarchy and a literal end to the rules of law in the USA. Michele Bachmann Michele Bachmann is a congress member in the United States House of Representatives and a strong supporter of the populist, right-wing Tea Party movement. Bachmann is, similar to Rick Perry, a conservative right-winger who is supportive of corporations and doesn't like environmental regulations. She is also a climate change denier. During a GOP debate in New Hampshire last month, Bachmann said she wanted to stop EPA and repeal the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act: "What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it's the repeal bill that will get a job killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America." And just two weeks ago during a campaign rally in Iowa she continued with her attacks against EPA saying that she would lock it down and shut of its lights: "I pledge to you I'm not a talker. I'm a doer," she said. "[...] And I guarantee you the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) will have doors locked and lights turned off and they will only be about conservation, " she said earlier today at a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids. "It will be a new day and a new sheriff in Washington, D.C." During a radio interview in 2009 where Bachmann talked about the cap-and-trade bill, which she has described as "tyranny", that was being debated in the House back then she called on citizens to get "armed and dangerous" in their opposition against the bill. This is what she said: "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people - we the people - are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States." One can wonder that if by "armed and dangerous" Bachmann meant something along the lines of what the Christian right-wing terrorist succeeded with in Norway this summer? When it comes to climate change Bachmann is just like Rick Perry a global warming denier. During a debate at the House floor on Earth Day in 2009 she claimed that "carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature" and that this would somehow disprove man-made climate change. In 2008 Bachmann said that she believed that climate change was just a hoax and a conspiracy. This is what she said: "The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It's all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax..." Bachmann also supports oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) saying the federal protected area would be "perfect for drilling" and that "it beast Saudi Arabia". But allowing oil drilling in the ANWR is pretty mainstream Republican opinions. Republican John Boehner, who is currently the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, said in 2008 while pushing for oil drilling in the area that he didn't believe that there is any wildlife at all in the ANWR. Mitt Romney Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, also wants to see oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). During a GOP debate in 2007 Romney said that to be able to reach energy independence USA needs to increase all their domestic energy productions. This would include investing more in nuclear energy and "more drilling in ANWR." But unlike Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, Romney has actually supported the idea of a cap-and-trade plan in the US saying he was "convinced" such a plan would be "good for business". Unfortunately those opinions didn't last very long. Andrew Schenkel writes: But in just a few short years, Romney's cap-and-trade feelings shifted. "We're going to move our new facilities from the U.S. to China, where they don't have those agreements. You end up polluting and putting just as much CO2 in the air because the big energy users go there. That's why these ideas make sense, but only on a global basis. They don't call it 'America warming.' They call it 'global warming.'" During a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, earlier this summer Romney said that he believes "the world is getting warmer" and that he "believe that humans have contributed to that". This is what he said: "I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that," he told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire. "It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors." Al Gore even (sort-of) applauded Romney for ignoring the "anti-science wing of the Republican Party". But Gore also noted that "we've long passed the point where weak lip-service is enough on the Climate Crisis". Romney, unlike his fellow Republican presidential candidates, believing in global warming sounds good, don't it? But just like Alexander Burns over at Politico notes, Romney is still not completely sure about the warming or how much responsibility we humans actually have: "But Romney also says he's not sure how much the globe is warming or how much responsibility humans bear, or what exactly the best climate policies would be. That's not exactly a bold, maverick stance, and would seem to put Romney within the same ballpark on the issue as George W. Bush." And just like the other two Republican front-runners, Romney doesn't think the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gases. Darren Samuelsohn over at Politico writes that Romney doesn't believe that carbon pollution is a threat to public health: ""Gov. Romney does not think greenhouse gases are pollutants within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, and he does not believe that the EPA should be regulating them," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. "CO2 is a naturally occurring gas. Humans emit it every time they exhale." Last week, Romney responded to a question at a town hall meeting in Derry, N.H., by saying he doesn't think carbon pollution threatens public health or merits regulation under the Clean Air Act." So while Romney at least acknowledges climate change he is still unsure about it and has no real plans or ideas on how we can combat the climate crisis. Last week in Iowa, Romney said that "corporations are people, my friends." So it seems we shouldn't put much hope to Romney that if he gets elected as president he would enforce environmental regulations against his friends, the corporations.
  16. Norway, a rich country in Scandinavia (in northern Europe) with a population of almost five million people enjoy the second highest GDP per-capita (after Luxembourg) and third highest GDP (PPP) per-capita in the world, and has maintained first place in the world in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) for six consecutive years (2001-2006). Most of the wealth comes from large fields of natural resources such as oil and gas. Norway is the third largest exporter of oil and gas worldwide. Only Russia and Saudi Arabia export more oil than Norway. In 2006, oil and gas accounted for 58% of all the services and products exported. Ah yes, Norway is one of the few countries that are generating huge amounts of money on the continuation of global warming. While it's probably true that most people in Norway feel a bit ashamed about this fact the second largest political party (as of the 2005 parliamentary elections) in Norway, the Fremskrittspartiet (shortly translated to the "progress party"), wants to gain more votes by downplaying the severity of climate change. All the other major political parties in Norway acknowledge the severity of man-made climate change and have unanimously decided on tougher actions against climate change. So why would a sane political party go against all trustworthy scientific reports you might ask? Well, what would you expect from a conservative political party like Fremskrittspartiet. A political party that advocates free market economics and deregulation of the economy, stricter limits on immigration, closer cooperation with NATO, United States and Israel in foreign policy and less state aid to developing countries. One of Fremskrittspartiet's goals is to limit immigration to 100 people per year (Source: Dagens Nyheter 11/4/2008). They especially want to stop Muslims, illiterate and poor people from coming to Norway. The party leader Siv Jensen believes that by denying global warming the Fremskrittspartiet will attract more voters from the other political parties in Norway and might have a chance to win the coming election from the current red-green government. By educating 1000 party members to confront the "exaggerated" public and scientific opinion about climate change and to use chosen "scientists" in the election campaign Siv Jensen hopes to profile Fremskrittspartiet as the "deviant and sane voice" in Norwegian politics.